Thursday, April 12, 2012

Home Truths

Home Truths has proved to be one of the best, if not the best, Companion Chronicle. Big Finish has recently made it obvious (to me, anyway) that it can think wonderfully outside the box, with the last series of Eighth Doctor/Lucie plays, and while the Companion Chronicles in general excel at doing that, this one stands out particularly for subverting expectations in many ways. With influences as diverse as M R James, Chimes of Midnight/ “Ghost Light” and Ray Bradbury, Home Truths captures both elements of Doctor Who—forwards and backwards in time—to create, I would argue, an addition to that line of rare sideways-in-time adventures.

Without giving too much away, it combines all the elements of a fireside yarn, a ghostly house, a Gothic tale-within-a-tale (the isolated atmosphere of “Miss Kingdom”’s house reminded me of “Usher Inn”), a mystery, with an excellent meta-twist. Jean Marsh returns to the role of Sara Kingdom, pooh-poohed as an official companion by some, and creates such an elegy on the character that her legitimacy can never be doubted again. Guerrier has gone to real pains to imagine Sara Kingdom’s past and to make her come alive as a woman, not just a companion. Like Charley in Chimes of Midnight, she has a revelatory moment of coming to terms with time and trauma.

The frame story is not only necessary but more complex than it originally appears. It nicely offsets the ultra-modern story Sara tells in flashback about landing with the Doctor and Steven in a strange house. The play is quite a frightening on with old-fashioned chills. Despite some tense moments, Home Truths is almost a story where “everybody lives,” though at a cost. It alos sets itself up nicely for a sequel, which the popularity of the release then made possible.

I would include this up there with Frostfire and The Mahogany Murderers as the best of the Companion Chronicles.

No comments: